Thursday, 13 September 2007

The pace of progress

I have been riding for about three years now. I have been riding on a non-learner's licence for less than a year. In fact, since February. In that time, I have ridden, I realise, quite a good range of bikes:
  • 1986 Yamaha SRX250 - learner steed. My partner's first bike, the one she learned to ride on 18 years ago. Very nice old bike, shame about the chronic unreliability (hence taking so long to get my licence).
  • Unknown year Yamaha XV250 Virago. Loaner bike we managed to get out of a shop for me to ride up the coast once. Mini cruiser. Lovely engine, shame about the rear brake, front forks, lack of tacho and the chassis.
  • 1998(?) Yamaha TRX850. My partner's second bike. Just around a carpark. Shame about that.
  • 2005(?) Yamaha TDM900. My partner's current bike. Why Yamaha haven't put that engine in a sportier frame, to create a second TRX, I may never know but will continue to mourn.
  • 1994-model (built 1993) Yamaha XJ600 SecaII. My lovely blue bike. Shame about having too many cylinders, but then again many people actually like fours.
  • 2007 Honda VTX750 Shadow. Cruiser. I did my test on that. Lovely chrome, shame about the bike. And the chrome.
  • 1984 Suzuki GSX1100 Katana. One of the big, famous names in motorcycling. Our mechanic's bike, which I have while mine is getting services.
I have learned two things by riding all these bikes:
  1. The best way to get comfortable on a new bike is to take it onto a straight stretch of road, wind open the throttle and hit 100. It puts slow riding into perspective, and settles you onto the machine nicely.
  2. Some time around 1990, the Japanese learned a thing or two about handling. Not as much as the Italians, obviously, but the difference between the hero-bike Katana and my cheap-sports-bike XJ is so pronounced it's hard to believe that there's really only 5-7 years between the basic frame designs. The Katana is long, heavy and needs a firm and demanding hand on the tiller, with a disconcerting tendency to want to dive into corners and tuck the front wheel under. My XJ feels more responsive with half the power, and is certainly more poised and stable in the corners. I can only dream of what an Italian bike will feel like in comparison...

No comments:

Search This Blog